Finding the right balance between work time and personal time is one of the biggest challenges of modern life. It's all too easy to start seeing yourself as always being on the clock, ready to jump back into work at the slightest instance. But a happy and fulfilling life needs balance and that means finding personal time inside your busy schedule. Not every minute of your life has to be spent ready to don your work suit and men's cufflinks – there needs to be time for relaxing as well.
Set a Schedule
All too often, it's easy to start using personal time to take care of lingering work matters or worrying about the things that need to be done at your job the next day. While being available to work around the clock may make you feel like you're being more productive, chances are that being "on call" all the time is doing just the opposite. Everyone needs time to unwind, relax, and take care of things that aren't related to work. If you're constantly putting personal matters aside to worry about professional matters, you're not giving yourself the mental space you need to decompress and come back to work the next day with a fresh head. Set a daily schedule for yourself with allotted times for holding meetings, checking email, and dealing with business. Whenever possible, avoid doing work outside of the scheduled times and be sure to include "me" time in your schedule as well. Whether it's going out with friends, spending time with the significant other, or just relaxing in your chair, be sure to allot yourself time every day to spend worrying about yourself and nothing else.
Manage Your Connectivity
Social media, smart phones, and other online devices are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, but they can also be a major inconvenience. It's all too easy to get sucked into work drama online, or use the easy access to work material that your smartphone or tablet gives you. An easy way to avoid this problem is to segment your online presence and create separate spaces for your work life and personal life. For example, you can use LinkedIn for business contacts, but keep a private Facebook profile exclusively for friends and family. It's also a good idea to set times when you'll put your phone away and not feel obligated to check it. While you don't want to ignore it for days at a time, you also don't want to feel like you are chained to it. Put the phone away a few hours before bed and don't check it until the morning. You'll sleep better and you'll give yourself a few hours to disconnect from professional duties and give yourself some piece of mind.
Take Up a Hobby
It's easy to let personal time turn into work time when you don't have anything to do. Setting yourself a personal goal that you want to achieve and then working on it on your off hours will help keep you occupied during your personal time. This can be anything from setting yourself an exercise regimen to building models to learning a new skill. As long as it engages you and keeps you occupied, a hobby will help inspire you to put work aside and spend some time enjoying yourself.
Finding the balance between work and play isn't always easy but with a little effort and commitment, it's possible to find the right time for both and to become happier in the process.
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